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[Detail] Louis Armstrong, Carnegie Hall, New York, N.Y., ca. Apr. 1947

Chronological Thinking: Creating Timelines

Every individual has a personal timeline—the chronology of events in that person's life. That individual timeline is inextricably linked with the larger events of history. Events in history affect the individual's life, for instance.

Draw a timeline of the years from 1917-2006 (William P. Gottlieb's life span). Use William P. Gottlieb's Life and Work: A Brief Biography Based on Oral Histories to enter at least eight important events in Gottlieb's life on the timeline. Using another color ink, add at least five historical events that you think affected Gottlieb's life; these may include major political events or events in the history of technology or culture. You will be able to identify several events from the reading, but you may have to form hypotheses about other events.

What does examining the completed timeline tell you about the relationship between individual lives and events on a larger scale? Do you think a similar timeline for one of the jazz artists pictured in the collection would show similar relationships with larger events? What about a personal timeline for someone in your family who lived in the same time period? Try making a personal timeline for yourself: What events in contemporary U.S. history have affected you?